Your Office Coach: Suggestive attire inappropriate for the office

Your Office Coach: Offensive humor is no laughing matter

I have a co-worker in her 40s who dresses as if she’s in her


wears tiny little T-shirts, despite the fact that she is very

I have a co-worker in her 40s who dresses as if she’s in her 20s. “Susie” wears tiny little T-shirts, despite the fact that she is very well-endowed. She has no problem showing off her assets to anyone who wants to look, which is embarrassing to the rest of us. After receiving several complaints, our manager spoke to Susie about her dress. She was surprised and told him that she wished people had talked to her directly. Although she improved for about a week, now she’s back to wearing her sexy outfits. How can we get Susie to dress more appropriately?


If you believe that Susie really wants direct communication, one option is a group feedback session. For example: “Susie, you’ve asked people to be candid, so we want to tell you that your revealing T-shirts seem inappropriate for the office. Frankly, we find them a little embarrassing. Would you be willing to consider dressing more professionally?”

But if the straightforward approach seems risky, a simpler alternative may be to jog your boss’s memory about the issue. Remind him of his previous conversation with Susie and ask him to follow up.

For example: “Even though you’ve talked with Susie about her suggestive T-shirts, she continues to wear them. We believe this gives visitors the wrong impression of our office. Could you talk with her again about appropriate business attire?”

If your manager fails to follow through, perhaps everyone should come to work in a tight T-shirt. That might get his attention.


My supervisor has created a “good old girls” network in our office. Her favored employees are allowed to take long coffee breaks, make personal calls, spend time on the Internet, and run errands during office hours. The four outsiders are denied these privileges. Instead, we are given extra assignments and receive little help with our problems.

The supervisor even gossips about us to people in the “in-group.” This unfair treatment is creating a lot of resentment. Some outsiders want to take this issue to the human resources manager. Do you think he could help?


Only a highly immature supervisor would allow herself to become part of a clique in her own work group, so your childish boss clearly needs leadership coaching. If the HR manager could provide some, meeting with him might be a good idea. To increase your odds of being taking seriously, encourage all the “outsiders” to participate in this discussion. Explain that standards are being applied inconsistently and that your supervisor’s exclusionary behavior is creating a rift among co-workers.

Then suggest some specific action steps. For example, you might recommend an evaluation of how work assignments are made or propose some training for your supervisor. Even if the HR manager has other ideas, he should still appreciate your solution-oriented attitude.

If this intervention works, you may eventually have a better boss. But if not, you will at least have made management aware of the problem.

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